At the Arkansas Department of Human Services office on East Washington Street in North Little Rock, there is a room where children in foster care meet with their biological parents during supervised visits. It's called the visitation room.
Every time Morgan Adams went there, the state of the space left her dejected.
"I thought, 'My goodness, this is where children hang out with their parents, and it's not OK,'" says Adams, 38, who lives in North Little Rock with her husband, Scott, their three children and their 9-month-old foster son. "It was very dirty with piles of toys and a couch that shouldn't even be on a street corner."
Although the room is a place for families to engage and connect, sometimes parents don't show up.
"Not only are the children left feeling sad and rejected, but then they're in a gross room," Adams says. "Our thought was that we can't control the parents' choices, but we can control the environment to an extent and the aesthetic impact it has on a child."
Adams wanted to do something. As she was talking to friends about what steps to take, she learned of a plea from The Call, a faith-based group that works with adoptive and foster families, to fix up the room.Gallery: Department of Human Services visitation room
"I instantly replied that I would do it," says Adams, a member of Sylvan Hills Church of Christ. "I knew I could get people to help, whether it was my church family or my family and friends."
She started a registry at Amazon.com for items to spiff up the room -- things like a TV, DVD player, a play kitchen, table, chairs, games, toys, a wall-mounted hand sanitizer station and a new sofa. Almost everything was bought within a couple of days, she says.
New floor tiles were installed, the walls got a fresh coat of paint and on Aug. 2, volunteers redecorated the area. A second visitation room was to be fixed up Saturday by volunteers from Sylvan Hills Community Church.
Adams hopes that the project influences others who want to lend a hand.
"Funding for these types of things is not there, and this is a group of people really overwhelmed with cases. They don't have the time to reach out for help. I think that should be on us, on church groups and community groups to step up and say, 'How can we help you?'"
Working with the state as a foster parent has also given Adams a greater appreciation for what caseworkers do.
"I have a whole new level of empathy for what they are dealing with every day," she says. "They are literally in the trenches. They're doing really heavy stuff, and it's been a joy for me to get to know the people working in that office and to take on some of their perspective."
Before and after photos are available at arkansasonline.com/811room/
SundayMonday on 08/11/2019